November 22, 2006

My son, Z, asks me

Dad, what is Kantian freedom?

some time later

Dad, what is a conceptual repertoire?

No, he’s not a philosophical prodigy. He was curious about what I was reading, and I explained that I had an essay written by a student, and I had to figure out how good it was. It happened to be an essay about John McDowell’s Mind and World, primarily on animal perception and cognition.

We ended up having a good conversation about whether or not our cat, Erasmus can think (Z thought ‘yes’, and I confessed being to being thoroughly confused on the matter after having read too many McDowell essays).

I’m not a McDowell expert, but I’m the second examiner, brushing up on my knowledge by reading a batch of honours essays. On the whole, they’ve been very good. (Before this week I’d never seen a philosophy essay in the form of an extended interview with Andrew Denton. “So, John, tell us how we can get off the seesaw between the Myth of the Given and the frictionless void…”)

After this, it’s my logic honours essays, and three honours theses. Could be another long evening.

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I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. ¶ I am the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews.



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